I’ve been obsessed with rituals lately. I view them as rituals vs routines because of the intent I associate with them. To me, routines are habits we perform mindlessly. Routines can be tedious. Rituals are performed with awareness and meaning. Consistent rituals provide rhythm to our daily life and give us stability when things get rough. They anchor us to our true selves.
My obsession started with my morning ritual. I want to start my day intentionally, in a way that supports my goals. Previously I had been grabbing my phone to check Facebook when I first woke up, which meant that more often than not, my day was hijacked by whatever inanity Trump had tweeted overnight. To take back my mornings, I instituted my morning ritual – thinking of 2-3 things for which I’m grateful, meditating, reading for 5 minutes, drinking a glass of water with apple cider vinegar, making my bed, and practicing Lisa Nichols’ mirror exercise – (see minutes 2:45). I’ve modified it over time – I’m no longer doing Lisa’s mirror exercise or making my bed, but I’ve added morning pages. It sets the tone for my day, clears my mind, and keeps me focused on my priorities.
We have family rituals for how we connect and celebrate together…like the first person to see a spring flower winning a “cake”, beignets and burpees on the beach birthday bash, making homemade pasta and pesto on Christmas Eve, volunteering at the Misericordia bakery during the holiday season, winter jigsaw puzzles, summer morning sunrise adventures in pajamas, singing Sana, Sana Colita de Rana song when sick and when schedules allow, electronic free family dinners.
I’ve also established rituals in other areas of my life. I have a ritual for starting my day at work – I meditate, pray and review the intentions I’ve written for the type of experience I’d like every client to have. I have a ritual for therapy as well – starting therapy with a cup of tea, ending it with a meditation, going for a walk in the woods to integrate, process and crystallize, and then journaling about anything that came up during therapy and/or my walk. I also have made it a regular practice to go for a walk in the forest daily – I vary my route but always check in at the bridge and with one specific, special tree – which allows me to closely observe the changes in season. These rituals help me live more mindfully.
Fortunately for me, I have an easy time falling asleep, so my bedtime ritual is pretty simple. I turn off electronics, tell the kids goodnight (occasionally beg them to tuck me in), read for a little while, and think about 2-3 things that happened that day for which I’m grateful.
If you have any difficulty falling asleep, a robust bedtime ritual can be a lifesaver. If you have kids (or were a kid), you know that parents establish a bedtime ritual to ease kids into falling asleep. It may include changing into comfy pajamas, dimming the lights, taking a bath, reading a book, singing a lullaby, listening to music, saying prayers, and/or rocking. We don’t sit kids in front of screens and fill them with caffeine and sugar and then expect they’ll fall asleep. But at some point, we seem to expect that we no longer need a bedtime ritual to prepare us for sleep. Consider establishing a bedtime routine to help you fall asleep more quickly and soundly – drink an herbal tea, take an Epsom salt bath, do some gentle stretching or yoga poses, meditate, read a paper book (not on electronics), listen to soft music, and/or diffuse lavender. Try different things and figure out what works best for you.
I have asked health gurus from my amazing network to share their bedtime rituals and best sleep tips. I will be sharing them on Facebook and Instagram throughout April. Check the posts to get ideas for what might work best for you.